11-year-old Sarasota girl aims to get law passed mandating infant cardiac screenings in Florida

Updated: Nov. 26, 2019 at 5:24 PM EST
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - After her baby brother was born with a congenital heart defect, an 11-year-old Sarasota girl is hoping to change the way babies are screened in Florida.

Savannah Marquez said if her little brother Nico wasn’t screened, he would’ve died from lack of oxygen. Now she’s hoping to spread awareness.

“When he was born it was a lot of running around the hospital going in and out of rooms, lots of tubes and tests to be done," Savannah explained.

Nico was born with a rare condition called Transposition of the Great Arteries, meaning his pulmonary artery and aorta switched while he was in the womb. This deprived him of oxygen when he was born.

“His oxygen levels were in the 60s and they like them to be between 95 and 100," said his mother, Nicole Marquez.

But for Nico, there were no telling signs. No discoloration or shortness of breath.

“If they would have sent him home as a healthy baby, over time, he probably would have had some complications and might have actually passed away," said Nicole.

Nicole said doctors only discovered his heart defect because Sarasota Memorial Hospital gives every infant cardiac screenings, but Florida is one of only four states in the country that doesn’t require them by law.

“We kind of got curious as to why that is and Savannah actually started doing some research," said Nicole.

She decided to do a project on infant cardiac screening for her youth organization. Then, took it one step further.

“I’m writing to lawmakers and I’m trying to raise awareness," Savannah said.

In June, Senator Joe Gruters answered, filing a bill on Nico’s behalf.

“Everybody’s like, ‘I wish I was you because you’re getting all this attention’ and I’m like, that’s not what it’s about though,” Savannah said.

For her, it’s simple. It’s about saving babies lives.

“Without Nico, I couldn’t even imagine life,” she said.

Now that the bill has been filed, the family is waiting on a House sponsor. After that, the bill will need to be presented in front of Senate and House committees in Tallahasee.

Then, it can go to the floor for a vote to be signed into law.

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